CrashPlan on Windows Home Server 2011

CrashPlan was running a special offer, $42 for a year of unlimited backup for one computer. I decided to give it a try and even though it’s not an officially supported operating system it’s been talked up pretty well in the WHS community. So here’s my installation experience.

Backup Logo - Laptops connected to backup

CrashPlan recently ran a discount offer for their one computer, unlimited backup plan so I decided to give it a try. [While the email I received said the promotions will end mid-October, when I check today it’s still active. The URL is: www.crashplan.com/mobilize.]

I’ve been using CrashPlan to back up my parent’s PC and it’s been working well. My main reason for using it on their PC was the ability to backup to a local disk in addition to online storage. (It can also back up to other PCs over the internet but that wasn’t a factor in it’s choice.)

CrashPlan Installation

Install CrashPlan on the Windows Home Server

CrashPlan setup wizard

It is the same software no matter what CrashPlan subscription plan you have – start by installing the software as a trial install. Download the Windows 64-bit version for Windows Home Server 2011. RDP (Remote Desktop) into the server and run the installer locally. I accepted the defaults for the entire wizard. Nice and simple. At the end of the installation CrashPlan will start and you’ll either create a new account or link to an existing account.

Create New Account

Crashplan Account Creation

When the setup wizard completes CrashPlan will start. I want to create a new account for this testing and since this is a one computer subscription there’s no reason to add it to the CrashPlan account I already have for my parents. I enter the information to create the account.

Setup Encryption Key

CrashPlan security screen

One of my requirements is that the backups be encrypted using my own encryption key which is not available to the backup provider. So I went into Settings and selected “Replace With Your Own Data key (Advanced)” so that I could enter my own key. The CrashPlan docs indicate this encryption key will also be used for any additional computers I add to the account.

I click the passphrase option and enter in a 63 character passphrase

Acknowledge The Risk

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Using my own encryption key brings some warning.

Default Backup Settings

CrashPlan backup configuration screen

The default settings aren’t very appropriate for a server so I’ll be changing them. I also want to select what to be backed up in relatively small groups to avoid bumping up to my bandwidth cap. I click the “Change” button under Files so I can deselect the Administrator’s home directory and add my first group of files to backup.

Select Files to Back Up

File selection screen

I select the files I want to back up. They total about 12.5 GB.

Start The Backup

Start the CrashPlan backup

Click the “”Start Backup” button to, well, start backing up. It’s initial estimate is that it was take just under 4 days although this was soon cut in half. The backup will continue even if I shut down the GUI and log off the user.

Adjust Bandwidth Limit

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By default the outbound bandwidth was limited to 300 kbps. I’m in no particular hurry to get the backup done and I don’t want to impact my other internet activity, including other backups. So while this is well under my upload bandwidth I still lower it 100 kbps to avoid impacting performance while I’m home. At night and when I’m out for work I’ll bump it back to 300 kbps. At 100 kbps CrashPlan estimates 4.5 days to upload the 12.5 GB.

Conclusion

While CrashPlan isn’t officially supported under Windows Home Server 2011, and I’m leery of using it because of that, CrashPlan is generally reviewed positively so I’m going to give it  a shot. Initially I’ll back up some files that don’t already get backed up to the cloud. They’re relatively large files (music, video, archived software) that don’t change a lot. With a data cap from my ISP it’s not feasible to store terabytes of data offsite, even if I had the bandwidth I’d hit the cap. While pricey, CrashPlan does offer the ability to get a hard disk in the mail as a restore solution. It’s a bit pricey but something I’d only need to pay for in a pinch.

So I’ll be doing some testing to see how CrashPlan works with Windows Home Server 2011. Anybody already using CrashPlan with WHS 2011?

7 thoughts on “CrashPlan on Windows Home Server 2011”

  1. Heard you on the HSS podcast so came to check out your site – very, very nice. It’s the kind of site with the kind of info I’ve been looking for. I use an HP Microserver (no changes just added 1 GB of memory for a total of 2gb and added a few 1.5 and 2tb drives) with Windows Home Server 2011. I back it up using crash plan and have had no issues – I’ve got the unlimited plan and have backed up about 850GB (FIOS is great…)

    Once again – great site – looking forward to your articles!

    Rensul

  2. Do you recommend using this to backup the WHS 2011 server itself? I backup all systems to my WHSserver, but am looking for a good backup for my WHSserver. Thanks!

    1. @Harry – By “server itself” I assume you mean the OS. I’ve never used Crashplan to backup any OS so can’t recommend it. Not sure they seem themselves as an OS backup tool since system files are excluded by default. It should be fine to backup the computer backups that are on the WHS since that’s just data. I don’t use CrashPlan for that since I send CrashPlan to to cloud and doing the computer backups is unrealistic for my bandwidth and data cap.

      I did try Cloudberry backup for a local backup of the WHS Computer Backup files and there were problems if the backup was done while a PC was backing up. It seems there’s a lot of index pointer in those backup files so while the backup was error free a restore didn’t result in a usable computer backup. Was fine if the Computer Backup files were all in sync. CrashPlan and any other backup software may have the same issue.

      But for data I do backup all my data except video to the CrashPlan cloud, again leaving out video due bandwidth and data caps so can recommend it for that.

      Ray

  3. Just looking into moving off Mozy due to their huge hike in prices. Has crashplan been running ok on WHS 2011 since you wrote this?

    Thanks,

    Greg

  4. I’ve tried to install Crashplan on my WHS 2011 but it only seems to run when I’m logged in on remote desktop and not when the server is standing by itself in its daily mode.
    Any suggestions to what might be wrong?

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